New lung ‘organoids’ in a dish mimic features of full-size lung

VIDEO: This video shows a mini organ in a dish mimics full-sized lung. Here is a Youtube link for embedding: view more

New York, NY (May 12, 2017)–New lung “organoids”–tiny 3-D structures that mimic features of a full-sized lung–have been created from human pluripotent stem cells by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). The team used the organoids to generate models of human lung diseases in a lab dish, which could be used to advance our understanding of a variety of respiratory diseases.

A paper detailing the discovery was published in the April 24 online issue of Nature Cell Biology.

Organoids are 3-D structures containing multiple cell types that look and function like a full-sized organ. By reproducing an organ in a dish, researchers hope to develop better models of human diseases, and find new ways of testing drugs and regenerating damaged tissue.

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Lame Science #10: Pilot comparative study on the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12-year-old U.S. children

Given that I teach a course on Immunology, and frequently discuss the unscientific nature of things such as homeopathy, acupuncture, and yes, vaccines-cause-autism-and-a-variety-of-other-disorders, I was intrigued when a student of mine asked if I had seen the new “study” purporting to show a link between vaccines, allergies, pneumonia, ear infections, and autism.

I told her that I had not, but committed myself to having a look at the study as soon as my exam was finished.

You may have noted that I placed the words study in quotations, as this particular article does not report on a study in any meaningful scientific context. Given that the data represent an internet survey of 666 homeschooled mothers, from this point on, the article referenced above, will be referred to as the “survey.”
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Arsenic Proudly Served Here

In a slight coincidence, or perhaps not, two articles detailing the potential dangers of arsenic in the food supply were recently published. Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element that is present in many minerals, often complexed with iron or sulfur. Though it has a (well-deserved) reputation for being toxic, arsenic functions as an essential trace mineral in many species of rodent, goats, chickens, and presumably, a variety of other species. Once the needs of the organism have been met, accumulation of excess arsenic can lead to arsenic toxicity and poisoning.

Intake of excessive arsenic has been linked to a variety of illnesses and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and even respiratory disorders. Arsenic is further believed to increase the risk of some cancers, skin, liver, lung, and kidney, in particular. The acute minimal lethal dose of arsenic in adult humans is estimated to range from 70 to 200 mg or 1 mg/kg of body weight/day.


Despite its known toxicity supplements containing arsenic have historically been added to animal feeds in the interest of promoting weight gain and decreasing the incidence of parasitic infections. Arsenic containing supplements have been outlawed in both the EU and North America since 1999 and 2013, respectively. Despite these regulations, arsenic still enters the food supply.
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Type II Diabetes Cured in Mice

A research team at the University of Texas Health Science Center has cured Type I diabetes in mice, and believes the successful results suggest that the technique could be effective in individuals suffering from Type II diabetes as well. The methodology increases the number of pancreatic cells that secrete insulin.

While the ultimate goal is to begin human clinical trials within three years, the method must be evaluated in large-animals studies, which will precede FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) approval, Bruno Doiron, Ph.D., a co-inventor, said.

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Lame Science #9: Paper on Dangers of Microplastics to Developing Fish Retracted.

A little more than 10 months ago, the highly respected journal Science published an article detailing the dangers of environmentally derived microplastic particles on European perch (Perca fluviatilis) larvae. The study reported that ingestion of microplastic particles inhibited hatching, decreased growth rate, and altered feeding preferences and innate behaviors perch larvae. The study further reports that those individuals exposed to microplastics did not respond to olfactory threat cues, greatly increasing their mortality rates.

A perch larva’s stomach is filled with microplastics.

Continue reading “Lame Science #9: Paper on Dangers of Microplastics to Developing Fish Retracted.”

Scientists Grow Inner Ear Organs from Stem Cells

Using human stem cells, Scientists from the University of Indiana report having grown the organs of the human inner ear in an article published in Nature Biotechnology. Developed as a potential source of in vitro screening technology, the techniques holds promise as a future stem cell-based therapy. The researchers employed a 3-D cell culture method that allows cells to develop specific three dimensional shapes, a prerequisite for the ability to grow organs or other complex biological structures in vitro.


Human pluripotent stem cells can be induced to differentiate into the more specific cell types associated with tissues and organs. Pluripotent, and even multipotent stem cells can programmed to alter their genetic expression patterns to reflect those of the specific target cell/tissue type.

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Walter Williams on Trade Protectionism

The great Walter Williams published an article on trade deficits, offering a sober and rational analysis of a non-existent problem, and some thoughts about whether or not President Trump’s protectionist policies will make things better or worse. Williams begins by using China as an example:

In 2016, the American people imported $479 billion worth of goods and services from Chinese producers, and we sold $170 billion worth of goods and services to Chinese customers. That made for a $309 billion current account deficit. In other words, we purchase more goods and services from Chinese producers than Chinese consumers purchase from American producers.

For many, this information on its own is adequate. It’s immediately presumed that this imbalance must be a bad thing. Williams, of course, asks the most important question of all:

How much of a problem is it when there is a deficit, or a negative imbalance…?

Again, most, a priori, assume that negative trade deficits are necessarily bad, but how do those “in-the-know” economists feel about this?

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Psychological Gender Differences Occur as Early as Age 12

A meta-analysis examining psychological studies undertaken in more than 90 countries was published online recently. The goals of this particular analysis, as stated in the abstract are to:

  • Estimate the magnitude of the gender difference in depression across a wide array of nations and ages;
  • Use a developmental perspective to elucidate patterns of gender differences across the life span;
  • Incorporate additional theory-driven moderators

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Elizabeth Warren: Dishonesty & Bad Ideas – A Quintessential Democrat

Harvard Law Professor and Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has been the subject of recent columns addressing both her honesty and competency. Once hailed as the “Soul” of the Democrat party, and later as a “Fearless Foe” of the Trump administration, Warren will likely be a Democrat front runner in the 2020 Presidential primaries. Given this, it’s important we keep the dishonesty, distortion, and downright foolish ideas espoused by Warren in the forefront of our minds.

Former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and calumnist Ken Blackwell called Warren a “Factory of Bad Ideas:”

She wants to raise corporate-tax rates, which scares companies out of the country. She protests crony capitalism in the financial markets, yet supports the Import-Export bank. She wants to lower student interest rates which only encourages more irresponsible borrowing. She supports taxpayer-funded, late-term abortion. She wants to raise the minimum wage to $22 per hour and have the IRS prepare your taxes.

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